From boomers to zoomers a multi-generational work place is common.
Each generation brings their own set of preferences, qualities, viewpoints, and experiences. Even though managing different generational perspectives can be challenging there are major benefits to having an age diverse workplace.
While each generation has their own set of characteristics, they also have some common ground. We all want to feel valued and respected. We like to know that we’re making a difference and that what we are doing is meaningful.
How we approach things is subconsciously programmed into us early on. It is based on what was happening in the world around us in our early years. This means we are often challenged with understanding each other’s values, work ethics and communication preferences. Our lack of patience when working together is often driven by not understanding the key drivers of each generation.
As more people delay their retirement, younger generations can feel that their opportunities for career advancement are being restricted. Or, that an older generations views are no longer relevant in a modern work environment. Older generations can become exasperated with the entrepreneurial spirit and limited focus of younger generations.
Bridging the multi-generational work place gap
So, how do we work together harmoniously when faced with different generational perspectives? You can start to bridge the gap by applying the following.
1. Establish respect – we all want to be respected. Older generations who have longevity and experience need to respect the energy and creativeness of younger generations. Likewise younger generations need to respect the knowledge and expertise that years of experience can provide.
2. Learn from each other – all generations bring a wealth of knowledge and skill to the table. As a manager, encourage knowledge sharing within your teams. Research finds that collaboration and knowledge sharing across generations results in higher productivity.
3. Focus on similarities – generation types aren’t stereotypical. It’s important not to overlook the similarities or recognise the individual. We all want to be judged by our merits not put into boxes that define us by the generational era we are born in.
4. Be flexible – accommodate the needs of each generation whether that is how we choose to work, work/life balance, or the need for security and stability.
5. Adapt your communication style – one of the biggest differences between generations is our communication preferences. Older generations prefer more formal in-person or over the phone conversations. Younger generations prefer messaging or social, which is why they often use abbreviations and emojis in their communications.
While working with different age groups can be tricky, it can also teach employees about differences in perspective, skill sets, and attitudes, all of which we can learn from. The more we know about the motivations of each generation the more we can minimise the risk of conflict. We’ve put together a guide that provides information on generational characteristics, aspirations, fears, and what employers need to know to adapt their management style to create a cohesive and harmonious workplace.